The Infinity Volleyball Academy is relocating to Ridgeland after outgrowing its previous location as volleyball quickly grows in popularity in Mississippi.
Jenny Hazelwood owns the travel volleyball program with her husband, Brian. They are headed into their sixth season and each year more athletes join the academy. This season they have 19 teams made up of 12 and under teams up to 18 and under teams totaling over 200 athletes. This new facility is located off of Lake Harbour Drive behind Bulldog Burger.
“The location is going to be more centralized for everybody and that is going to be huge,” Hazelwood said. “It really is as centralized as we could get.”
The new location will allow the academy to grow with the popularity of the sport. Hazelwood said there are more female athletes participating in volleyball than any other sport in the country. It is also the fastest growing sport in the United States for women but especially in Mississippi.
“It is really cool to see the sport taking off and it’s becoming where girls are having opportunities to play volleyball in college at all levels,” Hazelwood said.
While many have gone on to play in college, few from Mississippi have made it to the division one level and even fewer to power five schools. Hazelwood said Julia Dice, who played in Ole Miss’s match the first weekend in September, was the first from Mississippi to do so since 2002.
Many state athletes haven’t gotten the opportunity in past to play college ball because volleyball is such a skilled sport that requires lots of training and repetition of skills in practice to be competitive, Hazelwood said. But now players are getting their shot to play in college.
“Now that the players are getting the training they need at a high level for a longer period of time. It is paying off,” Hazelwood said. “I don’t even know the total number of alumni playing college right now. It’s fun to see after just a short period of time of five club seasons that we have a lot playing college already.”
Due to increased popularity, Hazelwood said they were outgrowing their facility. She said it was a nightmare trying to fit in practices for 19 club teams as well as the recreational teams they host in the spring. The new facility will have three more courts totaling eight courts.
“With eight courts, we are going to be able to do everything we need from a training perspective, and we are going to be able to host tournaments,” Hazelwood said.
Additionally, the facility will provide conveniences for the families of the academy with the many food options surrounding the location.
“The location is perfect,” Hazelwood said. “There is plenty of food around there so when parents have to drop their young ones off, they have options of food and grocery stores. There’s just so much right there that it’s going to be great for our families.”
Not only will the academy benefit by the move but also the city of Ridgeland, Hazelwood said.
“As much as it benefits us from a location standpoint and having so much literally right there from a convenience standpoint, I think it’s going to benefit everybody and we are super excited about that,” Hazelwood said.
Ridgeland’s mayor, Gene McGee, echoed the positive aspects the academy will bring to the city. He said it will draw people in who will put money into the local restaurants and businesses, but also continue Ridgeland’s reputation of being a community of athletics.
“We are excited this is going to be a state of the art volleyball facility,” Mayor McGee said. “We are known for recreation here and recreation helps the economy. That is important because it allows us to provide the quality of life that we need for our citizens.”
Construction for the new facility is underway. It is projected to be completed and ready to go in March of 2022.